Bible Study 11-19-2019
Value In Eternity Part Six
The Art Of Turning People To Righteousness (conversions)
Why have we allowed culture and society to make us feel uncomfortable about having conversations about JESUS?
In turning people to righteousness, we have a very specific bull’s-eye to our aim: we want to persuade people to become followers of Jesus. We want them to convert.
But Paul says we persuade others to follow Jesus (2 Cor. 5:11). We persuade, but we do not manipulate; We persuade, but we are not the ones who bring about repentance or conversion. Of course, we long to see people converted because we understand that conversion is required for them to become Christians. But true conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Conversion is the point of Christian faith that is most often misunderstood. It’s also a word that’s not particularly in favor with the modern world. No surprise. It was confusing when Jesus taught it to a religious leader of his day (John 3), and it is confusing to Christians and non-Christians today. So it’s good to spend some time explaining it.
The Bible clearly teaches that conversion is not a function of your parents’ religion, of which church you join, or of what your passport says. It’s not based on your academic achievements. Conversion comes from true, conscious, genuine faith in Jesus.
It’s important to note that when the Bible uses the word gospel, in the Old Testament as well as the New, it always does so in relationship to salvation.
Here’s a good working definition of the Gospel:
The Gospel is the Good News from God that leads us to salvation.
We then must ask, “What then, is salvation?”
The gospel message of salvation answers four big questions:
1.) Who is God?
2.) Why are we in such a mess?
3.) What did Christ do?
4.) And how can we get back to God?
There are no more important questions to deal with in the world, and the answers are summarized in this outline: God, Man, Christ, Response.
Answer to question #1 – God is our Creator. He is loving, holy, and just. One day he will execute perfect justice against all sin.
Answer to question #2 – Mankind is made in the image of God. We are beautiful and amazing creatures with dignity, worth, and value. But through our willful, sinful rebellion against God, we have turned from being his children to his enemies. Still, all people have the capacity to be in a restored loving relationship with the living God.
Answer to question #2 – Christ is the Son of God, whose sinless life gave him the ability to become the perfect sacrifice. Through his death on the cross, he redeemed sinful people. Christ’s death paid for the sins of all who come to him in faith. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the ultimate vindication of the truth of these claims.
Answer to question #4 – The response God requires from us is to acknowledge our sin, repent, and believe in Christ. So we turn from sin, especially the sin of unbelief, and turn to God in faith, with the understanding that we will follow him the rest of our days.
Another way to tell the same story is in an outline of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation.
The hope in turning people to righteousness is that we so steep ourselves in gospel truth and gospel living, and so apply ourselves to gospel study, that the gospel can’t help but come out of us.
Paul says we persuade others to follow Jesus (2 Cor. 5:11). We persuade, but we do not manipulate; We persuade, but we are not the ones who bring about repentance or conversion.
Persuasion has nothing to do with coercion, manipulation or applying pressure with a view to producing a convert for Christ. Jesus poured out his scorn on the Pharisees who engaged in such a procedure. “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he become one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15).
- “He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews.” (Acts 9:29)
- “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” (Acts 17:2)
- “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:4)
- “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 19:8)
- “From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” (Acts 28:23-24)
- “Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord [and understand the importance of obedience and worship], we persuade people [to be reconciled to Him]. But we are plainly known to God [He knows everything about us]; and I hope that we are plainly known also in your consciences [your God-given discernment].” (2 Corinthians 5:11 – AMP)